Negligence- Medical Malpractice claims in Seattle
You bring your son to the doctor to perform a routine check-up and to take a look at a substantially deep laceration he just sustained from playing outside with his friends. You sign in at the desk and wait until your son is called. The doctor, who was in a rush because he was seeing many patients that day, calls your son into an examination room. After performing a routine checkup, the doctor then addresses the laceration on your son’s leg, which was no more than half an hour old, using tools from the top of the table. Before leaving the house, you had stopped your son’s bleeding and applied an anti-bacterial spray and gauze to protect it. The doctor was not fazed by the deep wound and said it would just take a few stitches to fix. The doctor proceeds to take more tools from the top of a table—which, unbeknownst to him, had just been used to treat a child who had an infection—and completed the procedure. The doctor office’s policy is to only use tools from drawers in the table, because this ensures they were sterilized. A few days after seeing the doctor, your son begins to suffer pain and discoloration around the cut, and becomes increasingly sick. You bring your son back to the doctor, who denies any responsibility for the infection, which required hospitalization and extensive treatment.
There are four elements to negligence. They include: duty, breach, injury, and damages.
Duty: Once a doctor/patient relationship has been established, the doctor now owes the patient a certain duty of care. This duty is to act as other doctors in a similar position would act, and to follow medical care guidelines accepted in the medical community. In this instance, your son and his doctor established a doctor/relationship patient when you submitted personal information to the office, and an examination was performed. The doctor now had a duty to act as other doctors would under similar conditions and with the procedures and care accepted by the medical community.
Breach: After this duty of care has been established, the doctor is required to exercise reasonable care and treat the patient as would other doctors in his field, following procedures and actions accepted by his peers. Here, this duty was breached when the doctor violated office protocol and used tools from the top of the desk, instead of sanitized ones from a drawer in the table. The use of un-sanitized tools placed your son at a risk of harm.
Injury: An injury must be sustained. Here, your son contracted an infection from the un-sterilized tools the doctor used to treat the wound. To prevail in a negligence suit against the doctor, your attorney must prove that the un-sterilized tools were the direct result of your son’s injury.
Damages: The victim must suffer damages, economic or non-economic, as a result of the injury. Your son’s hospitalization and treatment resulted in substantial costs medical bills. You also had to take time off from work to attend to your son and his condition.